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What are economic torts?

by Direct 2 Lawyers on January 20, 2013

Employment law litigation normally involves some form of breach of a statutory duty or a breach of a contractual obligation that has resulted in some form of harm being suffered by the victim or a loss of earnings. However, there is another area that is hardly ever touched upon – common law economic torts. There are three economic torts under the law of England and Wales: the torts of procuring a breach of contract, causing loss by unlawful means, and conspiracy. We’ll have a brief look in this post at these three torts in the following order:

  1. Procuring a breach of contract
  2. Causing loss by unlawful means
  3. Conspiracy

Please note: it is advised that you obtain employment law advice from a specialist solicitor before acting on the below information.

Procuring a breach of contract

This tort deals mainly with employees who have been induced by another person (whether another employer or a third party) to breach their contractual obligations to their employer. In order to succeed in pursuing this tort a Claimant must show that:

  1. There has been a breach of contract; and
  2. That damage arises from such a breach; and
  3. The Defendant knew that it was inducing a breach of contract; and
  4. The Defendant intended to procure a breach of contract

Causing loss by unlawful means

This is a tort which does not depend on the existence of a contract to allow a wronged party to pursue a claim (as the above claim of procuring a breach of contract does) but allows a victim of a wrongful act to pursue a third party if the cause damage to them (the lead case of causing loss by unlawful means is Tarleton v M’Gawley [1790], where the captain of a ship fired a cannon at a canoe approaching another ship to prevent the other ship from engaging in trade. In order to succeed in pursuing a claim of this nature a Claimant must show that:

  1. An unlawful act was committed by the Defendant (one that would have been civilly actionable by the injured party);
  2. Which interfered with the actions of a third party in relation to the Claimant;
  3. That there was intention to cause some form of loss to the Claimant; and
  4. That the Claimant has suffered some form of loss

Conspiracy

Conspiracy (which is normally known as a criminal offence) occurs when two or more parties agree to undertake some action with the intention of causing another party loss. As with the above tort of causing loss by unlawful means, there does not have to be a contract in existence to pursue the claim. However, a Claimant must demonstrate the following elements if they wish to be successful:

  1. A combination or agreement between two or more legal persons; 
  2. An intent to injure (i.e. cause some form of loss;
  3. An act which carries out that intention to injure; and
  4. Some form of loss suffered

Direct 2 Lawyers offer specialist advice from compromise agreement solicitors and employment law solicitors.

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